Former DSM Chair: DSM-5 “A Disaster,” Calls for APA Monopoly to End


Former DSM task force chairman Allen Frances reviews the rise of the DSM, crossing over from a research instrument to to a popular bestseller and leading to “faddish over-diagnosis of autism, attention deficit disorders and bipolar disorder in children … and is accorded the authority of a bible in areas well beyond its competence.” He accuses the APA of “stubbornly refusing to subject the (DSM-5) proposals to independent scientific review.” The article appears in the New York Times.

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Related Items:
Rewrite means millions more likely to be called addicts (Star Tribune)
Experts unconvinced by changes to psychiatric guide (Reuters)
Newsflash from APA Meeting: DSM-5 Has Flunked Its Reliability Tests (Huffington Post)
Updates to Psychiatric Guide Spur Controversy (Washington Post)
First DSM-5 Field Trials Generate Mixed Results (Medscape Today)
Psychiatry Manual Drafters Back Down on Diagnoses (New York Times)

Related “In the News” Items:
Former DSM Chair: DSM-5 “A Disaster,” Calls for APA Monopoly to End
APA Proposes Alternative to Juvenile Bipolar
Incoming APA President Emphasizes “Positive Psychiatry”
Weak Field Trials Scuttle DSM-5 Diagnoses
DSM-5 Retreats from Some Controversial Diagnoses
Ethics Complaints Over DSM Filed With the APA


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Check out the Frances video on MIA but listen near the end and hear Dr. Frances’ views on the future of psychiatry. I’m hoping some of our psychiatrists bloggers will weigh in. Summary version: He absolutely believes there’s a need for psychiatrists going forward. He thinks all of us need to start paying more attention to “severe mental illnesses” not mild to moderate ones where there’s no evidence that meds help. So, for all the things Frances says that I agree with, I’m still wondering about the distinctions he’s making, it’s one I hear NAMI make a lot. “You’re not saying Schizophrenia isn’t a real illness are you?” “What about Severe Depression (Melancholia – great visual movie by the way), that’s real right?” Anyway, hope folks get a chance to watch and respond.

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